Fishing Rating: Hot Good Fair Poor
Bear Canyon Lake – Rating:
Bear Canyon Lake is steep, as well as deep. There is little shallow water, except at the upper end of the lake. Fish using small spinners and lures. If fishing off the bottom, avoid casting out too far where the water is very deep. Bait anglers should try fishing with a worm and bobber. Fly anglers using a float tube or kayak can find solitude at Bear Canyon Lake, especially on weekdays. However, fly-fishing from shore or wading is difficult because the tree line comes right to the water’s edge, and the water gets deep close to shore. Rainbow trout are stocked once in mid-September, and an extra 2,000 catchable rainbow trout were stocked in July because of great water quality and levels. Check out Bear Canyon Lake as your late summer fishing paradise.
Black Canyon Lake – Rating:
Catchable-sized rainbow trout are only stocked in the spring, but may persist this year due to fire closures restricting access and angling pressure. Late summer water quality measurements were poor, suggesting fishing may not be productive until cooler temperatures and cloudy days decrease algae blooms. The lake also currently contains illegally introduced green sunfish and largemouth bass; anglers are encouraged to catch and remove these species to help control their populations. There is no limit for bass and sunfish here.
CC Cragin (Blueridge) – Rating: Unknown
The lake is full and has been stocked with rainbow trout.
Chevelon Canyon – Rating:
Because of the difficult access, this lake is popular with float-tubers. Its deep canyon and well-forested edges make this lake a cool respite during the summer. Some lures to try are Kastmasters, Panther Martin spinners and Rapalas for stocked rainbows and wild brown trout. Fly-fishermen should try wooly buggers or wooly worms in black or brown colors, crayfish-colored patterns, and brown or black Simi Seal leeches, peacock ladies or other large streamers. Chevelon Canyon is stocked with fingerling trout in the spring and managed as a put-and-grow fishery. Chevelon Canyon Lake is a hike-in or ATV accessible lake only, with a two trout limit and artificial fly/lure only regulations. As fall progresses, be careful of spawning brown trout upstream of the lake. Try not to target fish on redds or step on redds in the stream. This lake has a great population of wild browns. Protecting spawning fish will allow these populations to thrive.
Clear Creek Reservoir – Rating:
Rainbow trout stocked in spring should be fished out by now, though in a 2019 survey, stocked trout were found all the way up where Clear Creek comes into Clear Creek Reservoir. Instead, target warmwater species like largemouth bass, sunfish, catfish and common carp in areas with rocky structure or edge vegetation to provide cover. As daytime temperatures cool, even in Winslow, bass should be more mobile and active. Fish in the morning from a boat or kayak, cruise around and enjoy the unique geology through the middle of the day, and then catch the evening bite at night. Try small hooks with a worm and bobber near rocks and structure for sunfish. For bullhead and channel catfish, use bait on bottom such as worms and chicken livers, especially at night when catfish are most active.
Knoll Lake – Rating:
The lake is full and has been stocked with trout. Anglers do well using PowerBait on the bottom.
Willow Springs Lake – Rating:
As daytime temperatures cool, water stratification breaks up and trout disperse throughout all depths. Willow Springs is stocked with catchable rainbow trout weekly until mid-September and tiger trout were stocked in May. Large numbers of trout remain uncaught into the fall and continue to provide excellent opportunity for anglers. Try Kastmasters, small Rapalas or Panther Martins for either species. Shore anglers fishing for trout can try nightcrawlers or PowerBait. Green sunfish and smallmouth bass were illegally introduced to this lake. Try a small hook with a worm under a bobber, even during the hotter parts of the day. Check out the dock repairs that happened during the summer and new improved attachment point on the cement abutment.
Woods Canyon Lake – Rating:
Just like at Willow Springs Lake, water temperatures should be mixing and letting fish move freely into deep water. Large numbers of trout remain uncaught into the fall and continue to provide excellent opportunity for anglers. If fishing for trout from shore, try PowerBait or worms. Fly anglers may have luck on dry flies or small nymphs right at sunset. Boaters can try trolling a Super Duper or tiny gold Kastmaster lures. The lake is loaded with crayfish; try fishing for large trout with spinners or lures that imitate crayfish patterns. Fish for illegally stocked green sunfish along the rocky shore with nightcrawlers. Woods Canyon Lake is stocked weekly throughout September with rainbow trout and in May with tiger trout.
Becker Lake – Rating:
Becker Lake can only be fished with artificial flies and lures with a single point barbless hook, catch and release trout only. Big rainbow and tiger trout lurk along the weed beds on the south end, but can be found in the middle of the lake by boat and float tube as well. Flies to try are midges, Prince nymph, brown Montana stone and KP bugger. There is limited opportunity for shore fishing and wading especially due to low water, but there is a floating fishing pier that is handicapped accessible. Spin fishermen can try Z-rays, small Kastmasters or Panther Martins with the treble replaced with a single point barbless hook.
In early fall, fishing is best in the morning before the wind picks up and evenings after the monsoon storms have passed. In late fall when daytime temperatures are cool, all day can be very productive. A 2019 spring fish population found rainbow trout only 15 inches and greater. Illegally introduced largemouth bass can also be found in this lake and anglers are encouraged to harvest bass to help the trout populations.
Big Lake – Rating:
Cooling daytime temperatures and afternoon monsoon storms are helping to break up algae blooms and improve visibility in Big Lake. Big Lake is not deep enough to develop a thermocline and cannot “break up” in the fall. Murky water and poor visibility are due to algae blooms, not sediment being disturbed from the bottom. Anglers should see increased bite as the weather cools and trout become more active.
Bait and shore fishermen can try anything from worms to PowerBait. Fishing from a boat is generally more successful in the early fall than fishing from the shoreline, when the fish move into deep, cooler water. As temperatures cool, trout will be found in shallower water, but shore angling remains difficult due to low water levels. Boaters should try trolling spinners and flies. Rainbow trout often forage on bottom, while cutthroat may be a couple feet higher in the water column. To attract cutthroat, use lures that resemble crayfish or their movement. Brook trout will hit flies, but also try nightcrawlers on the bottom.
Greer Lakes (Bunch, Tunnel, River) – Rating:
River typically will have the most water, the longest into the fall before filling again. Water rights are owned by the irrigation company and the lake levels get extremely low during the summer. However, this year Bunch Reservoir still has a good amount of water in it and received an extra 3,000 catchable rainbow trout in late July due to the suitable water quality. When the lakes begin filling again in the fall, fish near the inflows where the water is the most fresh. Try insect and crayfish mimic flies and lures flowing in with the fresh water.
Trolling flies, such as brown or black wooly buggers, or spinners is likely to work well in River Reservoir. Fly fishermen should try the upper end of River Reservoir where the river comes in and the lake is shallower. Sometimes there’s good surface action in the evenings; try hoppers or nymphs under a hopper in the early fall when insects are active. As fall progresses, be careful of spawning brown trout upstream of the lake. Try not to target fish on redds or step on redds in the stream. This lake has a great population of wild browns. Protecting spawning fish will allow these populations to thrive.
Carnero Lake – Rating:
Fishing from the shoreline or using spinners or lures is difficult at this lake because of the weeds. The best way to fish is from a small boat, canoe or float tube. Fly fish for rainbow trout and tiger trout with wooly buggers, prince nymphs or light-colored nymphs in open areas. The water is deepest near the islands on the north end of the lake. Water levels are still low this year. However there are fewer weeds than normal and more open water. Water quality will only improve throughout the fall as cooler daytime temperatures and afternoon monsoons cool things down. Access is still difficult and requires a slog out into the mud to get a float tube or kayak in. Carnero won’t fill back up until winter storms, so put your chest waders on and fish!
See the pdf file for the remainder of the lakes in the White Mountains region:
Black River – East fork
Black River – West fork
Little Colorado River
Show Low Creek
Show Low Creek meadows
Show Low Lake
*Community fishing lakes